Archive for the ‘Pastiches’ Category
Did Robert E. Howard create Red Sonja?
Technically, Roy Thomas is the creator of Red Sonja. Thomas relates the creation of Red Sonja in his afterword for The Chronicles of Conan Volume 4: The Song of Red Sonja and Other Stories: she was inspired by Robert E. Howard’s character Red Sonya — note the spelling — in the historical adventure “The Shadow of the Vulture,” as well as certain elements of Howard’s other redheaded sword-woman, Dark Agnes.
How does Red Sonja relate to Conan?
Ostensibly, Red Sonja and Conan are contemporaries, both sharing the Hyborian Age setting. However, the Red Sonja trademark is owned by a different company than the one who owns the Conan trademark.
So does this mean Rose McGowan can be Marique in Conan the Barbarian (2011) as well as Red Sonja?
Pretty much, yeah.
Wait a minute, I’ve seen whole rows of Conan novels on bookshelves: who wrote them, if not Howard?
Other authors. After Howard’s death, there were no new Conan stories for nearly two decades. In the 1950s, L. Sprague de Camp came upon an edition of the Gnome Press collections, and embarked upon the expansion and commercialization of Conan, resulting in the famous and iconic Lancer series. The first Conan stories by a subsequent author – referred to as pastiches in Conan fandom – were Howard fragments adapted and expanded into full short stories by de Camp and prolific author Lin Carter. When the half-dozen Conan fragments ran out, de Camp moved on to Howard’s historical and horror stories, and converted them into Conan tales. Eventually, the Howard material ran out, and de Camp hired Björn Nyberg to write the first fully-fledged pastiche novel, Conan the Avenger.
Since then, the Conan franchise has expanded to include dozens upon dozens of novels by many famous and prolific authors: Poul Anderson, Karl Edward Wagner, Robert Jordan, John Maddox Roberts, Andrew J. Offut, Roland Green, Steve Perry and even Harry Turtledove among them. With the sheer volume of books out there, it’s no wonder they run the gamut from good to abysmal, though few would say any of them matched or even approached Howard’s original stories.
Are any of the Conan books by other authors any good?
That depends. If you’re a fan of the writing in the stories, then seeking out more Robert E. Howard should be your first choice. If, however, you just love the character of Conan and the world he inhabits, then by all means try out the pastiches. Just remember the words of Karl Edward Wagner, the author of what is regarded as one of the better pastiches:
“As one of those who have written Howard pastiches, I feel that I have the right to say that pastiche-Conan is NOT the same as Robert E. Howard’s indomitable barbarian. Read such as it pleases you, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that this is anymore Robert E. Howard’s Conan than a Conan story that you decided to write yourself.”
— Karl Edward Wager, 1979